Exposure to People After Vaccines

Last Modified: October 4, 2009

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Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

How long should a neutropenic person stay away from someone who has received a vaccine, regular flu shot, H1N1, or infants who received their regular vaccinations? I see that it says to "avoid" recently vaccinated persons, but no indication for [how] long. Thanks.


Carolyn Vachani RN, MSN, AOCN, OncoLink's Nurse Educator, responds:

The issue with vaccines is actually with those that are "live attenuated vaccines". These types of vaccines are created using the actual germ / bacteria, and thus could possibly infect someone who is immunocompromised. It is rare for this to occur, however, because the germ gets weaker as it goes through production in the laboratory. I’d say 5 days or so is plenty of time to "avoid" those exposures.

The common live vaccines are:

  • MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
  • Oral polio
  • Varicella (chickenpox and shingles)

As for flu vaccines (both seasonal flu and H1N1), only the nasal formula is live - the injection/shot formula is not.

Read our recent blog about Flu vaccines for people with cancer.

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